Drabiuk named top Vikings coach
University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings men's basketball coach accepts the university's coach of the year honours from athletic director Greg Ryan at Colour Night on April 13.
Dave Drabiuk stood on stage, a little bit in shock when he heard his name called out among 13 peers as coach of the year at the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings Colour Night.
The win was in recognition of a difficult rebuilding program that finally broke through with an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference playoff appearance and stocked the cupboard with talent.
“I just leaned over to (Vikings curling coach) Roger Galenza and said, ‘well we’re going to give out your award again,’ because he’s gotten it the last three years,” said Drabiuk. “I didn’t have a clue at all.”
The curling program did have another banner year, collecting the men’s ACAC championship and serving as Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national championship hosts.
But it was the men’s basketball team, despite not winning any titles, that took the biggest step in their development this season. The Vikings missed the playoffs for three seasons, finishing last or second last in the North Division in each of those years. The last two seasons, they combined for nine wins.
They also moved forward Spencer Marion on up to the CIS and the University of Alberta Golden Bears while Michael Stasuik developed into one of the biggest weapons in the ACAC. Forward Eddie Nkerabahizi also showed he could be a difference maker in the future while collecting Augustana Rookie of the Year honours at Colour Night.
“The journey’s been interesting. It’s been a pleasure because you get to work with those great young men every day and that’s been fantastic,” said Drabiuk. “But it’s had its moments, it’s had its sleepless nights, its long days of frustration. The guys will tell you I haven’t always been smiles and jokes in practice and after games … but when you’ve got great guys like that in the gym every day, it makes the journey easier but it’s still long and arduous.”